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Our Food Has Culture. Does Yours?

April 24, 2012

Some of our nutrition goals for March and April included increasing the amount of fermented foods we feed our families.  For me (Daja) that meant brewing my own kombucha in March.   I was intimidated at first.  I have no idea why.  It is seriously the easiest thing to do!  We now drink it almost everyday!  Feels so good to give the family something they love and that feels like having a treat, but is so good for their bodies!

Did you know that cultured foods help foster community?  It’s true.  It’s one of the old-fashioned practices of sharing something from your kitchen with a neighbor and as your own kitchen is blessed the love gets passed on!

I got my SCOBY (the kombucha “mushroom.”  SCOBY stands for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast.) from Kristina.  It quickly multiplied and I shared the baby SCOBY with my parents!

The same thing happened with my April goal of making my own kefir!  I got kefir grains from Mrs. Heather (link to her in our Apron Brigade).  I quickly realized how delicious, easy, and affordable it was to provide my family with yummy yogurt drinks everyday!  (I don’t know about you, but my kids can put away a serious amount of yogurt and that stuff ain’t cheap!)  And then my grains started multiplying.  So, I shared some with Kristina!

If you are not lucky enough to know someone who has offered you some food cultures, maybe it’s time you started the ball rolling in your community!  We highly recommend Cultures For Health!  They are sort of a one-stop shop for cultures to start your own kombucha, kefir, sourdough, yogurt, cheese and buttermilk!  They even have soy starters to make wholesome (non-GMO!) tempeh, tofu, natto and miso!

Cultures for Health


In spite of me telling you how easy it is to culture and ferment your own foods, you may be thinking, “Why should I go through all that trouble?”

Well, let’s look specifically at the two foods I’m currently fermenting on a regular basis in my kitchen:

1. Kombucha.  The process of brewing Kombucha is over 2,000 years old.  It has been prized in China and Russia for thousands of years as a elixir of health.  It was supposedly highly valued by Chinggis Khan (Genghis Khan to you non-Mongols) as the key to keeping his soldiers strong on their long journeys!  According to Kombucha Kamp:

*Probiotics – healthy bacteria
*Alkalize the body – balances internal pH
*Detoxify the liver – happy liver = happy mood
*Increase metabolism – rev your internal engine
*Improve digestion – keep your system moving
*Rebuild connective tissue – helps with arthritis, gout, asthma, rheumatism
*Cancer prevention
*Alleviate constipation
*Boost energy – helps with chronic fatigue
*Reduce blood pressure
*Relieve headaches & migraines
*Reduce kidney stones
*High in antioxidants – destroy free-radicals that cause cancer
*High in polyphenols
*Improve eyesight
*Heal excema – can be applied topically to soften the skin
*Prevent artheriosclerosis
*Speed healing of ulcers – kills h.pylori on contact
*Help clear up candida & yeast infections
*Aid healthy cell regeneration
*Reduce gray hair
*Lower glucose levels – prevents spiking from eating

That sounds fairly appealing, no?  And what is great is that this nutrient dense super food costs next to nothing!  It’s a couple tea bags, a cup of sugar, a gallon of water, and that community SCOBY!  (I’m drinking some right now!)

2. Kefir.  This fermented, yogurt-like drink also has a long history, touted as a key to long life and health.  It’s strongly probiotic, full of phosphorus, vitamin K, biotin and folic acid!  Having an upset stomach?  Kefir provides bacteria to soothe your intestinal flora.  Researchers are looking into kefir as a possible cancer prevention!

Here’s what I do:

Place the kefir grains in milk.  Raw is best, but store-bought is fine as long as it is not ultra-pasteurized.  Leave the lid off the jar–just cover with a piece of cheesecloth.  Leave it on your provision room shelf.  Every so often (I do it a couple times a day as I pass) give it a gentle shake or swirl.  Just let it grow!

Kefir Grains. They start multiplying allowing you to make more kefir or share with a friend!

Depending on the strength of your grains or how many you have this can take anywhere from 12 – 48 hours.  Before you drink it, take out the grains and place them in some new milk!  Now you have a slightly tangy milk drink that is perfect for a smoothie! This even works great in coconut milk as we’ve recently discovered!

I do this is quart jars. You can use whatever size you have, but use glass, not plastic.

I put some fruit, chia seeds and sometimes a bit of honey or pure maple syrup in a blender.  A delicious breakfast or snack that is way cheaper than buying a quart of yogurt that may or may not contain enough lacto-healthy-bacteria and may or may not contain unwanted stuff like artificial colors, flavors, sugars and corn syrup.

Nutrient Dense breakfast!

I hope you’ll give some daily fermented foods a try!  See if they don’t help with your digestion, lessen headaches, increase energy, and deal with those awful sugar cravings.  We’ve made it a goal to have some cultured food everyday.  Join us?


Disclaimer – The herbal information on this web site is intended for educational purposes only. It is not the intention of the writers to advise on health care. Please see a medical professional about any health concerns you have.  Disclaimer – These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.  The information on this web site is not intended to prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.

(Linked up at Little Farm In The Big City and The Carnival of Home Preserving.)

14 Comments leave one →
  1. April 24, 2012 7:23 pm

    YUM! I’ve been using banana and frozen mango in our kefir smoothies…sometimes hemp protein powder, greens to-go, raw honey, bee pollen, flax seeds…easy way to get all the extras that aren’t easy to choke down on their own! The kefir grains work well with cow/goat milk and coconut milk, too…so many options…

  2. April 30, 2012 11:56 pm

    I really want to make this SOON, but so not sure WHAT to order from the site? There is different options (starters/sets etc.). IF you could give me the link to the EXACT thing I should order 🙂 Also I am lactos intolerant, what do you think? AND, can you link me to the EXACT Kombucha product I need to get to make it? THANKS THANKS THANKS 🙂 HELP!!

    • Daja permalink*
      May 1, 2012 6:29 am

      I look at the products and I think the best thing is to get the Kefir grains ($17.99). The “kit” one is 21.99 and it appears the only difference is that it has a strainer. I just use a slotted spoon. So go with the cheaper one.

      Likewise with the Kombucha starter. The only difference with the “kit” is that it has the mesh strainer. All instructions and even a video can be found on their website if you need it. The Kombucha starter is 11.99.

      As for the flip top bottles, I bought some soda at BevMo in those bottles and the family drank them. And now I have a nice set of bottles that I’m reusing. 🙂

      As for being lactose intolerant, that won’t matter with the Kombucha. The kefir can be made in coconut milk as long as periodically you “refresh” them in regular milk. Although you may find that you can handle homemade kefir. It’s so rich in healthy lacto-bacteria that it is very easy to digest.

      Hope that helps! I didn’t send the exact links, so if you don’t mind clicking through our link or ad above, then we’ll get affiliate credit. Thanks, Leona!

      • Daja permalink*
        May 1, 2012 6:37 am

        Just want to make sure you know that once you have a culture you can keep using it indefinitely. The “grains” for the kefir multiply and stay active as long as you keep feeding them. And the Kombucha SCOBY keep growing new SCOBYs all the time. So you can multiply how much kombucha you’re making (currently I do do gallons a week) or share SCOBYs with friends and family so everyone can enjoy Kombucha! 🙂

        So these cultures are really a good long term investment for your health and food budget!

  3. lauraw68 permalink
    June 1, 2012 6:48 pm

    Inviting you the Carnival of Home Preserving on my blog today and every Friday. Hope to see you there. Laura Williams’ Musings

    • Daja permalink*
      June 1, 2012 7:04 pm

      Thank you! We linked up!

      • lauraw68 permalink
        June 1, 2012 7:06 pm

        Thank you for linking up! Hope to see you next Friday!

  4. December 31, 2013 10:55 am

    awesome! I want to try this as soon as I can get some culture starters. what do you do with the extra if no one wants it?

    • December 31, 2013 12:26 pm

      The extra SCOBYs that grow? If they are overtaking me, I feed them to the chickens or use them in my compost bin.


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